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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Man Across The Hallway...

... move
d in about four months ago. Like his predecessor he was another divorced man in his mid-fifties; possibly in transition waiting for yet another condo to be delivered (?)
(Both of them followed "P", the Walter Matthau look-alike golfing, more mature widower gentleman. The tall blonde man in the corner apartment was in the same boat… Or, so I was told.

I noticed that the move was in full swing when the door of the apartment kept on slamming shut about every five minutes for some time and it began to get on my nerves... I finally sprung up from my computer aiming at nipping this potential habit in the bud.
No need to comfortably letting them get used to this non-sense!
I had left a note earlier in the day requesting they be careful, which they were – for a while, but the situation got sloppy once again being waaaay to long for it to be neighbourly.

As I opened my door the man was entering once again and ready to let go of the door when I interrupted him.
Noticing he was obviously frazzled by the task at hand, I nicely asked him to be mindful.

As we introduced ourselves, he further huffed and puffed and felt clearly awkward and ...(?)
I immediately recalled just how demanding moves were and offered him a cup of tea, coffee maybe?
He graciously declined.
Back to work. He was careful, albeit not perfect, the rest of the day….

I seldom saw him after that encounter, greeting each other as we passed on the hallway. He appeared to be "avoiding daylight".
I knew (have seen) he had a couple of charmingly polite young and truly beautiful children and that he drove a Mercedes SUV… and a German accent. Nothing else.

Two weeks ago yesterday we crossed each other once again. I was about to reach my door when I realized how unacknowledged he must have felt with my distracted, automatic response to his greeting. I felt embarrassed for my involuntary lack of care and I called back to him with an apologetic explanation about having been immersed in deep thought. He responded that it was all right; I felt his ever-present "morose", awkward behaviour once again erecting a wall and, almost chastized myself for trying to explain…
It crossed my mind, as I was opening my door and he was vanishing into the elevator, that it must be awfully sad and lonely to feel/be that way.

That way being, appearing to be, a mixture of lonely, sad, cagey, morose, somewhat aloof and/or emotionless (?) … definitely not an "everyday personality". Sad state of being.
As I was leaving the building a couple of days later, I encountered an uniformed Mountie (Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer) trying to enter without much success.
She was young and friendly, and since she didn’t look like the "trouble making kind" a let her in, accompanying her to the (former) manager’s apt.
She was trying to reach someone whom relatives and friends have been unable to contact for a couple of days…
Without giving it a second thought and since one of our eldest neighbours who is 91 was on the mend again, I went about my life as usual.
The following Sunday evening the "downstairs guys" told me that the nice man with the Mercedes SUV was found dead in his apartment. I immediately sputtered: suicide.

One of them says yes, I think so too.
The other: he died of a heart attack, he had a heart condition. I know he wasn’t well; I saw him in church for early mass every morning. Yes.. he is the guy with the Mercedes SUV...

What was his name? I forgot.
What was the name of the man before him? I (almost) forgot also because he became
the guy with the late model yellow Volvo.
How on earth did this happen?

It took part of my walk to figure out that I was "programmed" to forget their names… as we discussed building matters and in identifying the tenants and I’d say their names, the "downstairs guys" would invariably ask and keep on asking: But, is this the guy with the Mercedes SUV? Or, but, is this the guy with the late model yellow Volvo?

Is this a guy thing? Identifying one another by the car being driven? Or, is it that it is easier to identify a neighbour from another floor by the car he/she drives out of a common area, such as the garage? Or, worst yet, another way of detaching oneself of a possible connection?
Or, is it a way of reducing another to insignificance, by stripping away their "identity"?

I never gave this person a tough aside from the times that we crossed paths and I observed/felt his dark mood.
Yet, he visits my thoughts often these days. Actually, I think of him every time I walk up to our doors, as I go about my things. In and out of my apartment.
I think of us being about the same age. I think of a dear friend being about the same age. I think about "my honey" being about the same age and I gasp.

And I can’t help but think I might have been the last person to cross paths with him that evening, and although a stranger, he was a fellow human being. Possibly in much greater pain than I grasped just crossing.
Could I have made this person's heart a little lighter by being present, more attentive?

I think of how "swift and radical" death could be/is. I think of the pain his soul, mind and heart must have felt to either give up physically or, by giving up on himself emotionally/intellectually/spiritually …
One way or the other, the deep sorrow of loneliness and pain that caused him to come across as morose to me is what took him; with practically a lifetime ahead of him.

I think of our "mindless indifference" (generally) towards one another.
I think of how little we actually mean to many that surrounds us… just how alone we can live and just how alone and quickly we can die…
… I think I need to be more attentive, present from now on…

... I think I will make more of an effort to remember names from now on…


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Love and blessings to one and all

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